Decarbonising real estate is the key to achieving sustainability

Technology-driven solutions like Ecolibrium’s SmartSense enable real-time adjustments in building operations, enhancing efficiency and reducing environmental impact.

But constructing new ‘green’ structures is not enough. Enterprises need to set goals to tackle carbon throughout a building’s lifecycle and achieve these goals using tech-driven solutions.

Climate change is the biggest humanitarian crisis staring us in the face today. Real estate and the built environment account for 40% of global carbon emissions.

According to the World Green Building Council (WGBC), to keep global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels (in line with the Paris Agreement), all new buildings must operate at net-zero carbon from 2030, and 100% of buildings must operate at net-zero carbon by 2050.

Thus, decarbonising this area has a key role to play in the mitigation of worst effects of the climate crisis.

New vs old

Predictably, ‘green’ buildings have become the focal point of this battle between development and the environment. The WGBC states that a green building is one that, “in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment.”

This definition can include a number of features, including but not limited to how efficiently the building uses energy, water and other resources; use of renewable energy; good environmental air quality; consideration of the environment in design, construction and operation; and use of materials that are non-toxic, ethical and sustainable.

In the mission to achieve 100% net zero carbon buildings by 2050, while it is essential to construct state-of-the-art buildings that achieve the highest sustainability certifications, it is also crucial to remember that 70% of the buildings that exist today will still be standing in 2050.

Thus, it is equally important to manage these existing buildings efficiently, by retrofitting them in line with the principles of a circular economy.

Technology-driven solutions

The use of technology will go a long way in helping the world get to net zero carbon buildings.

For instance, rather than improving the insulation of an energy-inefficient building, you can equip it with digital tools that allow you to automatically adjust heating, lighting and other systems to the number of people present at any given time, using real-time data analysis. These ‘autonomous buildings’ are efficient, can be managed remotely, and are cost-effective in the long run.

At Ecolibrium, we help our clients achieve net-zero emissions status using such technology-driven solutions. After consulting with key stakeholders and identifying the major pain points, we create a sustainability roadmap for the enterprise. Next, we implement our flagship product, SmartSense, which effortlessly overlays on our clients’ existing systems to provide a holistic view of their entire energy, water and waste assets.

It collects real-time information on assets, operational data and critical metrics using IoT technology. This intelligence is then channelled through Ecolibrium’s proprietary machine learning algorithms to visualise data and provide actionable insights to help companies make transformative changes to their sustainability goals.

Retrofitting can be a cost-intensive process up front, but once completed, it can lead to significant savings thanks to the use of streamlined technology working at optimal performance.

According to the World Economic Forum, the cost of investment is generally recouped much faster — in less than five years with digital technologies — compared to more than 15 years for “passive” energy-efficiency solutions.

Looking to the future

There’s no doubt about it — digitization is reinventing the way we produce, distribute, and use energy in the real estate industry. And the adoption of digital technologies to decarbonize existing and future buildings is not only financially sound, but also makes sense for the planet and the people that inhabit it.

Now, it is time for companies, real estate developers, regulators and policy-makers to collaborate and apply that wider lens to their decision-making process.

Find out how we can help you achieve your net-zero goals while elevating productivity and reducing operational costs.

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